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Andrew J. Dannenberg, MD
Henry R. Erle, MD-Roberts Family Professor of Medicine
Associate Director of Cancer Prevention
Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center
Weill Cornell Medical College
New York, New York
Goal: To understand the underlying association of excess body fat with increased risk of breast cancer.
Impact: Dr. Dannenberg is investigating the connection between excess body fat, inflammation, and breast cancer, with particular focus on the causes of breast inflammation and its impact on breast cancer risk in average-weight women. His findings could provide the basis for developing strategies to both identify otherwise healthy women who may be risk of breast cancer as wells as interventions to reduce that risk.
What’s next: Having demonstrated that excess body fat is associated with a doubling of the risk of estrogen-dependent breast cancer in average-sized postmenopausal women, Dr. Dannenberg and his team are working to understand the biology of this phenomenon and develop a non-invasive strategy to identify women with breast inflammation.
Dr. Dannenberg and his team were the first to demonstrate a link between obesity, breast inflammation, and molecular changes that are associated with the development and progression of breast cancer. More recently, they discovered that average-sized women with excess body fat experience the same type of breast inflammation that typically occurs in obese women. His current BCRF research is focused on understanding the connections between obesity, inflammation, and breast cancer and on developing non-invasive ways to detect inflammation in average-sized women and identifying effective preventive interventions.
Full Research Summary
Research goal: Defining the mechanisms by which obesity-related inflammation impacts breast cancer and developing non-invasive tests to identify women at increased risk of breast cancer.
Impact: Obesity is a risk factor for the development of estrogen-dependent breast cancer in postmenopausal women and is also associated with poor prognosis for breast cancer patients. Dr. Dannenberg’s laboratory was the first to demonstrate a link between obesity, breast inflammation, and molecular changes that are associated with the development and progression of breast cancer. Recently, the team found that a significant subset of average-size women have excess body fat and the same type of breast inflammation that typically occurs in obese women. These studies will provide the basis for developing strategies to reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Current investigation: He and his team are using preclinical models and human tissue to define the mechanisms by which excess body fat and inflammation lead to breast cancer and promote its progression. They’re also working on a non-invasive strategy to determine if a woman has inflamed breast tissue that could increase her risk.
What he’s learned so far: Dr. Dannenberg has demonstrated that excess body fat is associated with a doubling of the risk of estrogen-dependent breast cancer in average-size postmenopausal women. He and his team have begun to uncover molecular processes that link obesity, inflammation, and breast cancer.
What’s next: The team will continue to study the role of obesity and inflammation in breast cancer and determine changes in gene expression that are associated with body composition and breast inflammation.
Andrew J. Dannenberg, MD is the Henry R. Erle, MD-Roberts Family Professor of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. He is also Director of Cancer Prevention at New York Presbyterian Hospital-Cornell. Dr. Dannenberg received his medical degree from Washington University in St. Louis and served as a medical resident and fellow at The New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center. He has authored more than 150 scientific articles, as well as edited several books and journals. In 2011, Dr. Dannenberg was awarded the American Association for Cancer Research-Prevent Cancer Foundation award for excellence in cancer prevention research. He is a member of the Association of American Physicians (AAP), the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI), and the American Association for Cancer Research.
BCRF Investigator Since
The Bloomingdale's Award